5 Stages of Weight Lifting

by Al Myers

Everything these days seems to be psychoanalyzed  by putting things into “stages of this” or “stages of that”.    I did an internet search and I realized that NO ONE has done this to date for Weight Lifting (at least not on the web, and if it’s not on the web, it’s not really available information since no one has books anymore!).  I’m no certified therapist so please do not take anything I say here too serious.  In fact I’m pretty simple minded when it comes to “feelings” or emotional issues, and if you ask me a question about anything mushy I’ll probably give you some vague and strange answer which includes some reference to animal behavior.  But here it goes with my 5 STAGES OF WEIGHTLIFTING:


In this stage the lifter basis his enjoyment of weight lifting upon receiving recognition.  This may be winning or placing high in meets, or bringing home big trophies to show his buddies. Recognition is the motivation to keep lifting.  Add in a few “broken records” of some type here and there and it brings more fame, which further inspires the lifter to keep training.


In this stage, it is about self-improvement as a weight lifter.  The trophy shelf is full and you’ve been patted on the back enough.  Weight lifting becomes an “inner battle” of setting personal records and improving your lifts.  Success is defined by making improvements “in your numbers” which becomes more important than taking home first place awards. 


In this stage, it is about giving your maximum performance at each competition.  The days of setting personal records are over, so now you judge yourself by whether you gave the best performance you could at a meet.   Success is defined by hitting the marks in competition that you KNEW you could get, by goals that have been established by training lifts.


In this stage, a lifter has got to a point in the game where giving maximum performance might not always be possible.  The one thing the lifter still has control over is the EFFORT given in a competition.  You judge yourself after a meet by asking, “did I give everything I had today?”  If the answer is yes, you feel that the day of the meet was successful. 


In this final stage, a lifter has reached a point that even giving maximum effort is not always possible in meets, and thus doesn’t expect that of themselves.  Lifters in this stage receive enjoyment by just being part of the sport by participating.   This may even extend beyond competing in the competition.  Bliss is found by just being involved.

What stage are you in??  Most of the time I have seen lifters go through these 5 stages in chronological order, but not always.  Sometimes a lifter will become “stuck” at one stage for a long time, and get discouraged because they haven’t progressed to the next.  Very few lifters truly reach STAGE 5.  I can only think of a few in the USAWA that might be there.  Most lifters quit long before they reach that level. 

Now, as I’ve said earlier, these stages are just my thoughts, and don’t represent any scientific theory.  Crazy stuff like this is what I think about when I’m working out by myself!